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Week 1: 8/31/15 – 9/4/15

This week was the first of our semester long project with Pixure Books Publishing. We set up weekly client and faculty meetings; our meetings with our client, Josie Cellone, will be every Friday from 12:30 pm to 1:30 pm, and our meetings with our faculty advisors, Mike Christel and John Dessler, will occur immediately afterwards from 1:30 pm to 2:30 pm.

Together, the members of the student team came together and chose a project name that would represent our team for the semester: Inksmith.

We set our weekly core hours, where all members of the team will be together to do work on Inksmith. They are as follows:

  • Tues: 5 PM – 8 PM (3 hrs)
  • Wed: 4 PM – 8 PM (4 hrs)
  • Thurs: 5 PM – 8 PM (3 hrs)
  • Fri: 10 AM – 6 PM (8 hrs)
  • Sat: 10 AM – 5 PM (7 hrs)

We’ve also set up a scrum board and begun to put up tasks related to setting up communication infrastructure for the project and initial brainstorming about our first prototype.

On Wednesday, we met with Josie for the first time. Inksmith hadn’t had much information about where the stories we would be prototyping would come from, exactly who our audience would be, what main goals we would be aiming for, etc. Josie immediately hit it off well with the team, having looked into a lot of the previous work of the ETC students and bringing her mobile tablet with many interactive storybook apps on it for the team to explore. During the meeting, the team saw three apps:

  • Even Monsters Get Sick
  • The Very Hungry Caterpillar
  • Billy’s Coin Visits the Zoo

In these three apps, we saw a lot of variations of interactions and implementations. One app had the text of the story highlight with narration where another didn’t, and the third app had no text at all. The apps had varying degrees of linearity, one app had minigames that needed to be completed before moving on, one had different collectibles unlock with each playthrough, etc. Josie also sent Inksmith a few more example apps after the meeting, and the team began to use all these to develop a context for the prototypes they would build.

Meeting with Josie gave us a few guidelines for development that we will be following throughout the semester:

  • Our stories will primarily will be adapted content from Josie’s existing manuscripts
  • Our target age range is 2 to 5-year-old children
  • We should try to program our app to be cross-platform (iOS, Android, Kindle)
    • Try to prioritize iOS testing first
  • We should plan for user scenarios with both present and absent parents (i.e. with and without app narration)
  • Some story themes/rules we should follow with our application
    • Children should solve their own problems
    • Should be humorous
    • Shouldn’t be didactic (lessons should be subtle)

At the meeting, Josie gave us our first manuscript that we will be prototyping for the semester. Though the number of stories we will be prototyping has not yet been locked down, we will be roughly scheduling a “complete” prototype for 4 weeks from now, to be shown at quarters walkarounds. We have received an iPad and an iPhone 4 (in addition to devices that team members own) to test our application with various operating systems and aspect ratios.


Next week:

Inksmith will hopefully complete a barebones programmed prototype of our first short story, hopefully moving through a couple of scenes and having corresponding text appear on screen with scene changes. Meanwhile, we will also model and do some simple animations of characters and start designing interactions throughout the story. We’ll also start getting more resources for the team to research with, such as some classic paper storybooks and other interactive story apps.

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